Realizing Your Truth

Emily 02a

E: What’s been the happiest moment of your life?

Happiest moment of my life. Oh, I would have to say it is when I got full custody of my daughter. When she was five. I got full custody of Kaylee and I was able to raise her. And she’s actually in the Navy here stationed in Norfolk. So, we’re able to have a relationship now, which is awesome. I’d say that was the happiest moment of my life—when that happened. 

E: Is she your only son or daughter? 

She is. She’s 20 and I’m 39. So she’s been in the Navy for a couple years. She was on the Lincoln and now she’s on the George Washington. 

E: Oh, you must be so proud. 

I really am. It’s just…we’ve kind of had an interesting past few years. We’ve been all over the country. We left Tennessee in 2014, moved to Colorado, moved to Oregon, moved to California, and finally we’re here. So, we’ve kind of been all over the place. 

E: So has that been because of her involvement in the Navy?

No, so I’m a software developer, so I work remotely. It’s just one of those things where we just decided to leave Tennessee and travel the country, go on adventures, and that kind of thing. We’re both kind of rolling stones a bit. 

E: That’s amazing. As somebody who is a child and doesn’t have children, it must be really cool to raise somebody and see them grow and develop. 

Yeah, it’s, I yeah, I’m really lucky. We’re kind of each other’s best friends. She’s married now. Her husband Chase, he’s a really awesome guy, but her and I, we have a great relationship.

E: What do you think are some of her best characteristics?

Oh gosh. Kaylee is…I think one of the best things about her is her sense of humor. She’s able to laugh at herself and she’s able to, you know, she takes things seriously when she needs to. She’s funny. She’s genuinely a funny person. Like she’ll make me laugh laugh. When we hang out, it’s basically just laughing non-stop basically throughout the whole day. So I’d have to say that’s my favourite thing about her. 

E: Is that one of the biggest things she’s added to your life other than friendship?

The thing that Kaylee’s added to my life is she has… like your kids call out everything that you have. They force you to be the best version of you that you can be. So Kaylee is like..maybe I’m going to bounce something off of her when she’s older, like as a teenager. Like I chose to involve her in things going on in my work stuff and talk to her as I would with any other friend. And she’s into that kind of stuff. 

E: That’s awesome. 

Kaylee, she’s just pushed me to be the best version of myself. And always forcing me to question what I think. You know, well, why do I think this? Or is this response to her the best one that I can do?

E: Oh, that’s a great father-daughter relationship. That’s really special.

Thanks. Yeah, like I said, I got lucky. I got lucky. 

E: And so, if you don’t mind me asking, were you ever unsure if you would not get custody of your daughter? How did it feel to go through that?

From when Kaylee was a year to when she was five, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. I spent a lot of nights, a lot of birthdays wondering where Kaylee was and wondering when I was going to see her again. And it was just a very difficult…it was a hard time in my life.

It was a hard time. But, you know, I just kept pressing on and hoping something would turn out and, you know, I was losing the battles but I would win the war kind of thing. But yeah, it was questionable for a while for sure. 

E: It must be hard to simplify everything that went on, too, and because I’m sure so much went on. 

With parenting there’s no manual. There’s no guide. You’re winging it. You’re winging it! For me, I winged it for 13 years. You know, each day I knew a little more and I knew a little more, a little more, a little more. But, feelings of “I don’t know what I’m doing”…that never really goes away. Because, you know, the things they go through when you’re 15 are different from when they’re five. And so, yeah, you have an idea of kind of what has worked in the past but with different problems that have different solutions. So I guess the takeaway from that is that in parenting, you never feel like you know what you are going. You always feel like you’re winging it. 

E: Well it sounds like there has been a good result out of all of that. 

Yeah, so far, it’s gone really well. So I’m thankful for that. 

E: This one loves you, too!

Yeah, so Bosa. As I said, I got him in Colorado. He’s my wingman. He and I, we spend a lot of time together. He goes to see a dog sitter in the day so I can work uninterrupted and he can get that exercise. But yeah, he loves people. He’s my guy. 

Yeah, I’ve been in the area since April last year. I was living in Northern California, and you know, when Kaylee joined the Navy and got stationed out here in Norfolk, it was like, I’ve been on the West Coast for a few years and I thought what a great opportunity to go to the east coast, and just kind of be over here for a little while. So I took Bosa and we drove 10 days across the country. The first four days were in a blizzard—I don’t know if you remember, last spring there was a giant winter storm near like Montana and that part of the country. I was going through that at the time. And so, for the first four days the weather was so bad I couldn’t get out of the car to take him potty for more than five or 10 minutes at a time. It was uninhabitable. It was wild. It was crazy. 

Yeah, I drove five hours a day and then worked for five hours. So I get up in the morning, start my drive… and I had all my hotels planned out ahead of time and reserved ahead of time. So I had to get to my destination in order to have the trip not be a failure because if I was a day late, I was a day late on all of them because they all were reserved ahead of time. So, every day I had to get to my place.

E: Oh my gosh. Yeah, hopefully you have 4-wheel drive.

Yeah, it was. It was an F150. And I had a big U-Haul on the back of it. It was flying all over the place as well. 

E: Well, I’m glad you made it.

Thanks, me too. Yeah, I love the area. I come here, gosh, at least twice a week. For a while it was every night. This was my after work thing I would do every night. I live like 10 minutes away and we just come here and sit right here and just kind of get some fresh air.

E: Thank you for all of that. Do you have any just like thoughts that you’d want to just put out there…about what you’ve been talking about at all? 

Well, the thing that…I mean like I said I’m 39, you know. Lord willing, I’ve got a long way to go. But I think the biggest idea that I have realized is time. Like, time is the most precious commodity we have. It’s the only thing you can’t—you know, like the song says—you can’t buy any more of it. So the older I get the more I realize how precious time is and how job and income and status, and all that stuff…none of that is important, none of that matters. 

Bosa and I, we live over at [a] campground. I’m wrapping up my lease in my apartment and then for the first time in like 15 years, I’m not going to be applying to, you know, rent again. I’m just like, I’ve got a little 35 foot travel trailer and that’s all I need. So, I guess the biggest takeaway for me is: just have what you need. And you’d be amazed at how little, like you really, really need. And how just even having a small amount of things, man, stuff just doesn’t impact your happiness.

E: Are there any hobbies or things that you have that travel with you when you go everywhere?

Well I’m a big gamer. I’ve got a PS4 Pro and I, you know, I’ve never outgrown games. I’ve always been a gamer at heart and an artist. I’m a creative. I draw and I try to do things that keep myself mentally stimulated. Right, so gotta protect your brain. My body’s gonna fall apart, but as long as my brain keeps, you know, keeps on trucking then I’m good.

Other than that, as corny as it sounds, my sense of adventure—that’s the thing that I keep with me. And I know as long as I’m happy with what I have, then I don’t need anything else. Everything else is just kind of gravy. So, simple life I guess

E: I know like minimalism is a big like idea being thrown out or just like popular. Not to say that you’re necessarily a minimalist, but to see the idea be lived out is cool and to see your thoughts about it.

As much as I can be. It’s all about trimming it away and going, do I really, really need this? And I mean it’s not for everybody. There’s nothing wrong with having a bunch of stuff. There’s nothing wrong with making a bunch of money. I mean, you know, gotta pay the bills and you gotta be able to retire. I mean it’s that stuff’s important. But with me, I’ve just realized that it doesn’t impact my happiness, one way or the other, necessarily. It’s all about getting that good night’s sleep. Sleep a good night. What is that worth? 

E: Where do you think you’ll travel to next? Do you have an idea?

I do. I’m going to be traveling to Florida to spend time with my parents. So my parents live in Melbourne Beach, and they’re getting older, so I’m going to spend a few months, at least on the beach in Melbourne, Florida. And then I’m going to Colorado. And I’m going to go back to Colorado and live near Boulder for a little while.

E: Well, I’m glad you found a lot of, like, truths in your life. What brings you happiness. That’s really cool to hear about. 

Thanks. And I like the word truths, because that’s really what it is. We’re all looking for truth, right? We’re looking for things that we know were believed to be true. And then it’s about validating that and going, this is what I think is true. This is the way I think I am. Am I really this way? Your whole life is about realizing those truths about yourself. Which means you get to know yourself even better. The more you know yourself, the better you’ll be able to take care of yourself, right. Because getting to know yourself is like anything else anyone else; it takes effort. It sounds weird, but that’s what I found.

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